Thursday, March 26, 2015

Is Mobile Device Use Causing Nearsightedness In Children

Our kids seem to be naturals when it comes to using smartphones and tablets, but all that close-up screen time may be doing a number on their eyes.

“We are seeing a lot more nearsighted children these days,” says Dr. Thomas Yau, an opthamologist in Silver Spring, Md.

A lot of factors may play a role in the increased number, including better screening and genetics, since nearsighted parents are more likely to have nearsighted kids.

However, the rise in the use of hand held electronic devices may be making the situation worse.

“One of our concerns is that kids are holding things very close to their eye,” says Yau.

He suggests that over time, this constant staring at close objects may reduce children’s ability to focus on things farther away.

The result could be an increased risk of nearsightedness, or myopia.

How big is the problem?

Myopia is steadily on the rise, according to the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

The NEI says there were 34,119,279 cases in 2010, and they project 39,094,141 cases by 2030, when today’s kids are grown.

Parents may well remember similar concerns about the dangers of watching television.

A major difference exists, however: Yau says standard computer and television screens aren’t quite as hard on the eyes as today’s handheld devices, because there is more distance involved.

So what should these moms and dads do to protect their kids’ eyes at a time when screens keep getting ever smaller?

Yau says limiting screen time is very important.

However, in a digitally-infused world, “the games, the devices, the apps, are certainly attention-grabbing” and enforcing limits may not be easy.

A better idea, according to Yau, may be to encourage kids to engage more in activities that are not electronic and do not involve a screen.

In other words, convince them to go outside and play in sunlight.

The outdoor play will not only improve their fitness; it will get them to use their distance vision as well, Yau says.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Conjunctivitis: What to know about pink eye

The conjunctiva is the thin mucous membrane lining over the white portion of the eye ball (sclera) and the inner aspect of the eyelids. Inflammation of this normally clear tissue results in redness, swelling and increased secretion of mucous, and can be caused by a number of conditions:

A virus

Any variety of cold viruses can cause a red, mucous-filled eye. In the same way that the offending virus may cause nasal congestion, a sore throat and/or cough, the conjunctiva becomes irritated and makes your eye congested as well. If you have cold symptoms accompanying your pink eye then it is almost certainly due to a virus and will resolve without any antibiotic drops.


A bacterial eye infection is a more serious matter and is often preceded by overuse of contact lenses, sometimes leading to a corneal ulceration. There is often pain and any discharge may be thicker and gray-yellow in color. This requires a prescription for antibiotic drops and immediate attention from an eye doctor.


Seasonal or environmental allergies to pollen, pet dander, dust mites or other allergens are the most common cause of conjunctivitis, and often accompanies typical allergic symptoms such as a stuffy nose, scratchy throat or sneezing. Over-the-counter antihistamine tablets and drops may effectively reduce or relieve these symptoms, which are usually chronic and recurrent in nature.


Any substance that splashes or is accidentally rubbed into the eyes may cause irritation and conjunctivitis. This may include hand sanitizer residue or moisturizing hand creams that inadvertently rub off of your fingers into your eyes. Washing out any known or suspected substances is the first line of treatment. Any persistent irritation after a known exposure, or involvement of a caustic substance (acid, etc.) should be cared for as soon as possible in a hospital ER or ophthalmologist’s office.

Dry eyes

As we age, the eyes often secrete fewer tears that may result in redness due to drying of the conjunctiva. There are a number of artificial tears and lubricating drops for daily use to prevent development of redness from dry eyes.

Treat it

General care for any source of pink eye may include warm water to wash away any mucous or crusting, and cool compresses to relieve itching or burning. Over-the-counter drops may be helpful in getting relief from allergies or chemical conjunctivitis, but are of no value in treating infections.

The same viruses that cause colds are similarly contagious by contact or via respiratory inhalation and can spread pink eye from person to person. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, don’t shakes hands and wipe down surfaces with a disinfectant. As long as you have symptoms, you are likely contagious.

See an ophthalmologist

Regardless of the source of your pink eye, always seek immediate attention from an ophthalmologist if you have eye pain, a foreign body sensation or if your vision is compromised.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Comprehensive eye exam can help detect glaucoma in early stages

Glaucoma is a disorder that damages the optic nerve. In its advanced stages, it can impair vision and eventually lead to blindness. In most cases of glaucoma, the optic nerve is damaged by a rise in pressure within the eye due to a buildup of the fluid that flows in and out of the eye.

In addition to having a family history of glaucoma, risk factors for the disease may include high or low blood pressure, as well as other medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and hypothyroidism. Other eye problems may increase your risk of developing glaucoma as well, including eye inflammation, retinal detachment and lens dislocation. A severe eye injury can put you at risk for glaucoma, as can certain types of eye surgery and being nearsighted or farsighted.

Ethnic background also appears to have an impact on a person’s risk of developing glaucoma. African-Americans and Latinos who are older than 40 have a much higher risk of developing glaucoma than Caucasians. African-Americans also are more likely to suffer permanent blindness as a result of glaucoma. People of some Asian backgrounds have an increased risk of developing glaucoma, as well.

Prompt treatment of eye problems and good management of other underlying medical conditions may help reduce the risk of developing glaucoma. Some research suggests that eating a healthy diet may reduce your glaucoma risk, too.

Certain dietary supplements touted as promoting eye health claim to be able to prevent glaucoma. But at this time, there’s no solid evidence that these products — often marketed as “eye vitamins” — can prevent, manage or treat glaucoma.

In its early stages, glaucoma usually doesn’t show any symptoms. Typically it’s not until the late stages of the disease that people who have glaucoma begin to notice eye problems, such as loss of peripheral vision. That’s why it’s so important to get regular eye exams, particularly if you are at high risk for developing glaucoma.

In general, it is recommended to see a Reno eye doctor once every two to four years for people between the ages of 40 and 54, and every one to three years for people between the ages of 55 and 64, even if you have no problems with your eyes or your vision. After age 65, you should have a comprehensive eye exam every one to two years. Depending on your risk factors, these exams may need to be more frequent.

If an exam shows that your internal eye pressure is higher than normal, that means you’re at increased risk of developing glaucoma. It is important to note, however, that not everyone with elevated intraocular pressure develops the disease, and not everyone who has glaucoma has increased eye pressure. If you have elevated eye pressure and your eye doctor indicates that you have a high risk of developing glaucoma, eye drops may be prescribed to reduce the risk that your condition will progress to glaucoma.


Saturday, March 21, 2015